Government and Political Roundup: Gov. Walker believes there will be more comprise the next two yearsWisconsin News
-- Governor Scott Walker says he believes his proposals can get support from both major parties in the next two years.
Governor Scott Walker says he believes his proposals can get support from both major parties in the next two years. And that includes mining incentives that were so politically-contentious in the last session. The Republican governor spoke to about 300 business and community leaders in La Crosse yesterday, where he and his Cabinet held their second annual summit for small business. Walker told reporters he’ll keep focusing on job creation. And he predicts that minority Democrats will give at least some support to tax cuts, reforming state regulations, and a newly-reworked mining bill. In the last session, Democrats joined the G-O-P in passing some job creation measures. But that was before the massive protests occurred over Walker’s limits on public employee unions. After that, Democrats refused to cast a single vote on the union limits, the state budget, and mining legislation in which Republicans promoted badly-needed jobs in northern Wisconsin over environmental protections. This time, the G-O-P acknowledges that the environment must be addressed. Walker mentioned several times during the La Crosse summit that the new mining package will include safeguards for quote, “clean air, clean land, and clean water.”
Wisconsin’s Republican legislative leaders say they will not try to eliminate private sector employee unions, as some Democrats fear. Voters put the G-O-P back in charge of both houses, more than a year-and-a-half after those Republicans virtually eliminated collective bargaining privileges for most public employee unions in the state. The issue made the State Capitol even more politically polarized than it had been. Republican Governor Scott Walker previously said that private unions are a partner in creating jobs – and he’d be against going after them, like he did with the public unions. This week, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and possible G-O-P Assembly Speaker Robin Vos both said private union restrictions won’t happen.
State aid to Wisconsin’s public schools might be linked to how well their students perform. Governor Scott Walker said he might propose such a measure in his next state budget that he’ll submit to the Legislature in February. Yesterday, Walker spoke to his new Republican majority in the Senate. He dropped some hints of what he might include in the massive two-year spending package, but he did not go any into detail. Walker also said he might address areas in which employers need more skilled workers. Unlike two years ago, Walker and the Legislature will not have a multi-billion-dollar deficit to deal with. The latest estimates from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau say the current budget will end with a 261-million-dollar surplus next June 30th.
Also yesterday, Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau was chosen again by his G-O-P colleagues as the Senate’s majority leader. He held the post during the last session, but he lost it temporarily after Democrats took the majority in last June’s recall elections. It didn’t make much difference, though, as the two-year session was officially over by then. Also, Mike Ellis of Neenah was returned to the post of Senate President, which he held until the recall votes.
Wisconsin Republicans say they’ll do what they can to keep the photo I-D requirement for voting from being abolished. It was passed last year, but two judges later struck it down as being unconstitutional – and the state is now challenging those rulings. Racine County Republican Robin Vos, who’s in line to become the next Assembly speaker, says his party will wait to see what the courts do. And if they have to make it changes, Vos says they’ll do so. Republicans regained control of both houses of the Legislature in Tuesday’s elections. And with Republican Scott Walker in the governor’s office, Democrats again have no semblance of power. South Milwaukee Senator Chris Larson said the G-O-P treated its Democratic colleagues like “pieces of furniture” in the last session. Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald sounded a bit conciliatory when he said he hopes the next session brings quote, “some resemblance of the way we used to function in the building,” when the minority had at least some input. Fitzgerald sees this week as a fresh start. Middleton Democrat Jon Erpenbach, who like Larson is running for the Senate’s minority leader post, says he hopes Republicans realize quote, “They’re not the only ones who live in Wisconsin.” Meanwhile, the G-O-P promises to push some of the issues they pursued last session – like mining incentives, tax cuts, and expanding private school voucher programs.